5005 - Reporting Abuse and Neglect

Policy 5005 Reporting of Child and Vulnerable Adult Abuse, Sexual Abuse, and Sexual Violence

It is the policy of the Board of Directors of the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union, Bennington School District, Inc., Mount Anthony Union School District, North Bennington Graded School District, Pownal School District, Shaftsbury School District, and Woodford School, (hereinafter, the District) and the purpose of this policy, to implement the requirements of 33 V.S.A. § 4913, to ensure that school district employees meet their legal reporting obligations under 33 V.S.A. § 4913 and other related statutory requirements.

It is further the purpose of this policy to make clear to school district employees that it is not their role to investigate cases of suspected abuse or neglect. Rather, it is the role of school district employees to be faithful and timely reporters of suspected abuse or neglect to the appropriate State Agencies for investigation.

I. Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting

A. Any employee or district contracted personnel employed by the District to provide student services (“School Employee”) AND who reasonably suspects abuse or neglect of a child shall report within twenty-four (24) hours of the time information regarding the suspected abuse or neglect was first received or observed. Such report shall be made to the Commissioner of The Department for Children and Families (“DCF”) or his/her designee.

B. Ultimately, each school employee is responsible to ensure that the report is made to DCF within 24 hours even when the school employee has informed a building administrator or any other person in the school. Additionally, in cases where multiple employees become aware or suspect abuse or neglect, each individual employee is required to report to DCF. This reporting may be done as a group reporting. In instances where a written report is requested by DCF or District Administration, all reporting individuals shall either sign one report or provide an individually prepared and signed report. The DCF intake or case worker shall determine whether or not the child’s guardian, family or parents shall be informed of the report. Failure of a school employee to adhere to these reporting requirements and/or failure to report in a timely manner to DCF may result in the imposition of fines pursuant to Vermont law, employment disciplinary action by the District, and/or licensing discipline by the Agency of Education. A School Employee may not refuse to make a report required by this section on the grounds that making the report would violate a privilege or disclose a confidential communication. If a report involves the acts or omissions of DCF, then such a report shall be directed to the Secretary of the Agency of Human Services.

C. Education: All employees will receive orientation, information, or instruction on the prevention, identification, and reporting of child sexual abuse, as defined in 33 V.S.A. §4912(8), and sexual violence annually. Parents, guardians, and other interested persons are able to receive the same information from the Department for Children and Families1.

II. Vulnerable Adult2 Abuse Reporting

The District shall ensure that its employees who provide care and services to Vulnerable Adults are informed of their responsibilities, rights, and protections under this Policy. In addition, during the hiring process for employees, prospective employees, contractors and or volunteers who will provide care, custody, treatment, transportation, or supervision to Vulnerable Adults, the District will submit the individual’s name to the Commissioner of the Department of Aging, Disabilities and Independent Living to determine if that individual is on the Registry of individuals who have substantiated reports of abuse on record.

III. Protections for those making Reports under I. or II.

Any person reporting to DCF or the Commissioner of the Department of Aging, Disabilities and Independent Living any report based upon a good faith belief in the factual basis for the report shall be held harmless even in the event that the report is found to be unsubstantiated.

See Attached Administrative Procedures for Reporting, Definitions, Investigations and Protections:

1 More information is available on DCF’s website: www.dcf.vermont.gov/protection
2 “Vulnerable Adult” is a person 18 years of age or older who:
a. Is a resident of a facility required to be licensed 33 VSA Chapter 71 (nursing home);
b. Is a resident of a psychiatric hospital or a psychiatric unit of a hospital;
c. Has been receiving personal care services for more than one month from a home health agency certified by the Vermont Department of Health or from a person or organization that offers, provides, or arranges for personal care; or.
d. Regardless of residence or whether any type of service is received, is impaired due to brain damage, infirmities of aging, or a physical, mental, or developmental disability: Cont’d page 3
(i) that results in some impairment of the individual's ability to provide for his or her own care without assistance, including the provision of food, shelter, clothing, health care, supervision, or management of finances; or
(ii) because of the disability or infirmity, the individual has an impaired ability to protect himself or herself from abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Any school teacher, school librarian, school administrator, school guidance counselor, school aide, school bus driver, or school employee or school contractor who works regularly with students, who knows of or has received information of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult or who has reason to suspect that any Vulnerable Adult has been abused, neglected, or exploited shall report or cause a report to be made as soon as possible but in no case later than 48 hours.

Legal References:

33 VSA Chapter 49, Subchapter 2, Reporting Abuse of Children.
33 V.S.A. Chapter 69. Reports of Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of Elderly and Disabled Adults.
33 V.S.A. §4913(f)(1)
16 V.S.A. § 563a, School Boards; Prevention, Identification, and Reporting Of Child Sexual Abuse And Sexual Violence

CROSS REFERENCE:

Policy 5004 – Prevention of Harassment, Hazing and Bullying of Students

Policy 5005 Warning and Adoption Dates

Administrative Procedures for Reporting, Definitions, and Protections

(Note: Reporting staff members shall not contact the parent/guardian before a report has been made. See contact reporting information on pages 6-8)

I. Definitions

A. Mandated Reporter: In relevant part, Vermont Statute defines a mandated reports as “individual who is employed by a school district or an approved or recognized independent school, or who is contracted and paid by a school district or an approved or recognized independent school to provide student services, including any: (A) school superintendent; (B) headmaster of an approved or recognized independent school as defined in 16 V.S.A. § 11; (C) school teacher; (D) student teacher; (E) school librarian; (F) school principal; and (G) school guidance counselor; (3) child care worker; (4) mental health professional; (5) social worker;…” [33 V.S.A. §4913]

B. Report: A phone call or other communication with DCF or the Commissioner that identifies a child or a vulnerable Adult whom the caller believes is or has been the victim of abuse or neglect. [See 33 V.S.A. §4914]

C. Abused or Neglected Child: “A child whose physical health, psychological growth and development or welfare is harmed or is at substantial risk of harm by the acts or omissions of his or her parent or other person responsible for the child’s welfare. Also, a child who is sexually abused or at substantial risk of sexual abuse by any person and a child who has died as a result of abuse or neglect (33 VSA § 4912(1)).” [DCF Policy 50]

D. Risk of Harm means a significant danger that a child will suffer serious harm by other than by accidental means, which harm would be likely to cause physical injury, or sexual abuse, including as the result of: (A) a single, egregious act that has caused the child to be at significant risk of serious physical injury; (B) the production or preproduction of methamphetamines when a child is actually present; (C) failing to provide supervision or care appropriate for the child’s age or development and, as a result, the child is at significant risk of serious physical injury; (D) failing to provide supervision or care appropriate for the child’s age or development due to use of illegal substances, or misuse of prescription drugs or alcohol; (E) failing to supervise appropriately a child in a situation in which drugs, alcohol, or drug paraphernalia are accessible to the child; and (F) a registered sex offender or person substantiated for sexually abusing a child residing with or spending unsupervised time with a child.

E. Serious physical injury means, by other than accidental means: (A) physical injury that creates any of the following: (i) a substantial risk of death; (ii) a substantial loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ; (iii) a substantial impairment of health; or (iv) substantial disfigurement; or (B) strangulation by intentionally impeding normal breathing or circulation of the blood by applying pressure on the throat or neck or by blocking the nose or mouth of another person.

F. Sexual abuse consists of any act or acts by any person involving sexual molestation or exploitation of a child, including: (A) incest; (B) prostitution; (C) rape; (D) sodomy,; (E) lewd and lascivious conduct involving a child (F) aiding, abetting, counseling, hiring, or procuring of a child to perform or participate in any photograph, motion picture, exhibition, show, representation, or other presentation which, in whole or in part, depicts sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse involving a child; (G) viewing, possessing, or transmitting child pornography, with the exclusion of the exchange of images between mutually consenting minors, including the minor whose image is exchanged; (H) human trafficking; (I) sexual assault; (J) voyeurism; (K) luring a child; or (L) obscenity.

G. Vulnerable Adult means any person 18 years of age or older who: (D) regardless of residence or whether any type of service is received, is impaired due to brain damage, infirmities of aging, mental condition, or physical, psychiatric, or developmental disability: (i) that results in some impairment of the individual’s ability to provide for his or her own care without assistance, including the provision of food, shelter, clothing, health care, supervision, or management of finances; or (ii) because of the disability or infirmity, the individual has an impaired ability to protect himself or herself from abuse, neglect, or exploitation. 33 V.S.A.§14(D)

II. Reporting Procedures

I. Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect

33 V.S.A. §4913(a) requires abuse and neglect reporting by, among other professionals, psychologists, school teachers, nurses, school superintendents, school librarians, school principals, school guidance counselors, mental health professionals and social workers. The specific statutory requirement is that any one of the above-enumerated professionals "who has reasonable cause to believe that any child has been abused or neglected shall report [to DCF] or cause a report to be made [to DCF] in accordance with the provisions of section 4914 of this title within 24 hours." [33 V.S.A. §4913(a)] Persons who are not mandatory reporters may report or cause a report to be made. 33 V.S.A. §4913(c). Whether or not one is a mandatory reporter, a person who files such a report in good faith has immunity from any criminal or civil liability. 33 V.S.A. §4913(d)(1). Note that failure of a mandatory reporter to report can result in a criminal prosecution (potential penalty of 6 months in a jail) and a fine of not more than $1,000.00. 33 V.S.A. §4913(e)(1). “A person may not refuse to make a report…. on the grounds that making the report would violate a privilege or disclose a confidential communication.” 33 V.S.A. §4913(g).

PLEASE ERR ON THE SIDE OF REPORTING [Source: Secretary of Education Memorandum, April 1, 2015]

MANDATED REPORTING OF Child Abuse/Neglect in Vermont

If you work in one of the professions listed on the back, you are a mandated reporter and this information applies to you.

What is my legal obligation?

Mandated reporters are legally required to report suspected abuse/neglect to the Family Services Division (FSD) — within 24 hours of receiving or observing information related to the suspected abuse/neglect.

How do I make a report?

Call us at 1-800-649-5285 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).
If a child is in immediate danger:
  • Dial 911 or your local police first; and
  • Then, call FSD to make a report.

Where can I get more information?

Visit mandatedreporters.vt.gov to:
  • Learn more about reporting;
  • Sign up to get email updates; and
  • Participate in online training.

Vermont’s Child Protection Line
Call FSD to report suspected child abuse or neglect (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

1-800-649-5285 • mandatedreporters.vt.gov

Mandated Reporters in Vermont

A mandated reporter is any:
  • Health care provider, including any chiropractor, dentist, emergency medical personnel, hospital administrator, intern, licensed practical nurse, medical examiner, osteopath, pharmacist, physician, physician assistant, psychologist, registered nurse, resident physician, and surgeon;
  • Individual who is employed by a school district or an approved or recognized independent school, or contracted and paid by a school district or an approved or recognized independent school to provide student services, including any school superintendent, school principal, headmaster of an approved or recognized independent school, school teacher, student teacher, school librarian, and school guidance counselor;
  • Agency of Human Services employee, contractor, or grantee who has contact with clients;
  • Camp administrator, counselor and owner;
  • Mental health professional; and
  • Child care worker, clergy member, police officer, probation officer and social worker.

Tip: Before you call, try to have as much information on hand as possible (e.g., the child’s name, date of birth, address, school or child care provider, and parents’ names).

Protecting children is everyone’s business!

Make a Report with Adult Protective Services (APS)

http://www.dlp.vermont.gov/abuse-reporting-form

Make a report to APS if you believe a vulnerable adult was abused, neglected, or exploited by an alleged perpetrator. You should make a report if you feel that a vulnerable adult has been harmed because of actions (or inaction) taken by a specific person or persons. In most cases, this requires the alleged perpetrator to either intentionally or recklessly harm the vulnerable adult. Vermont Law establishes who vulnerable adults are and what constitutes abuse, neglect and exploitation.

You can make a report to APS in the following ways:

1) Telephone Toll Free:  (800) 564-1612
This is the preferred method to make a report, as it will give APS staff the opportunity to talk with you about the situation and to gather information to help us best serve the vulnerable adult. We are available Monday through Friday, typically from 7:45am to 4:30pm. If you call after hours or on the weekend, please leave a message and we will call you back the next business day.

2) Online Report:  Make a Report

3) Email:  AHS.DAILDLPIntake@vermont.gov

4) Fax:  (802) 241-0342 To help ensure that APS has the information necessary to act on your report, please consider the reporting recommendations below.

5) Mail:  Adult Protective Services Intake, HC 2 South, 280 State Drive, Waterbury, VT 05671-2020. We do not recommend filing a report by mail.

General Guidelines for Making a Report

  • Describe why you suspect a vulnerable adult has been abused, neglected or exploited. If possible, include a description of any incidents, to include locations and dates and how you became aware of this issue.
  • Tell us if this abuse, neglect or exploitation is ongoing at the current time.
  • Tell us who you are, how you know the vulnerable adult, how to contact you and how you know about this situation.
  • Tell us who the alleged victim is, how to contact them and how it is they are vulnerable. Also, let us know if reaching out to them could put them in danger.
  • Tell us who the alleged perpetrator is, how they are related to the alleged victim and how to contact them.
  • Tell us if there are any risks to our Investigator, such as potentially violent investigation participants or aggressive dogs at an investigation participant's home.